Thoracic and Chest Pain
The thoracic spine refers to the area of the spine situated in the upper and middle-back. Pain in the thoracic spine, which can also radiate around the chest (referred pain), may relate to a number of conditions including herniated (slipped) or degenerative discs, muscular problems, joint dysfunction, arthritis, vertebral fractures, kyphosis (a hunched back) and scoliosis – a condition in which the spine curves abnormally sideways.
Pain in the thoracic spine and chest most commonly originates from muscular irritation or other soft tissue problems. Another frequent cause of pain in this area is damage to the disks or joints between the vertebrae – an intricate formation of bones, tissue, nerves and muscles. This can occur as a result of trauma or sudden injury, such a car accident, or can come on gradually due to ageing, overuse, repetitive strain, poor posture and work related factors, such as sitting at a computer.
Prolonged (longer than 10 minutes) intense or ‘crushing’ chest pain (which may also be accompanied by arm or neck pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness and sweating) may not be associated with musculoskeletal problems, but a heart or angina attack.
If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, call the emergency services on 999 immediately.
Treatment can include one or more of the following:
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation of the joints
- Massage of the spinal muscles
- Heat therapy
- Trigger point treatment
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Core stability exercises
- Postural management
- Ergonomic assessment
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